Dry vs. Dehydrated Skin: How to Tell the Difference
Your skin is amazing. It covers almost the entirety of your body, protecting sensitive tissue and internal organs from harmful bacteria, acting as a self-healing layer of protection against injury, and helping ensure that extreme temperatures don’t interfere with delicate internal processes. On top of all of that, it plays a primary role in your sense of touch, giving you the all-important sensations of physical contact.
Unfortunately, for all the functions it performs, your skin can easily fall prey to problems of its own. When this happens, we often describe our skin as feeling dry. But having dry skin does not necessarily mean that you have dry skin. In fact, in many cases, what we consider “dry skin” may just be dehydrated.
But wait, don’t dry and dehydrated mean the same? Often, yes. But in the world of skincare, they describe two different conditions, each with its own causes, symptoms, and treatments. Here, we discuss dry vs. dehydrated skin, how to tell them apart, and what you can do about each.
Definition of Dry Skin
When a dermatologist refers to “dry skin,” they are actually talking about a type of skin. Those who have dry skin (also called alipidic skin) actually have fewer glands for producing natural oils. These oils lubricate, help protect you from invading bacteria and fungus, and regulate your natural water intake and evaporation.
Those who suffer from dry skin were likely born with it; it’s genetic, although it may also be a result of hormonal imbalances. In other words, there really isn’t any way to cure dry skin; if you have it, it’s probably something that you’ll be dealing with throughout your entire life. That said, it is possible to improve dry skin using topical treatments.
Signs of Dry Skin
Dry skin may be flaky, cracked, itchy, or just generally uncomfortable. Dry skin often feels dry all over your body, from the top of your scalp, to the areas around your eyebrows, nose, and mouth, and down through your neck, arms, hands, thighs, and feet. Dry skin may easily become inflamed and sensitive, and those who suffer from dry skin often notice that their faces feel tight after washing.
More than anything, dry skin gives itself away through its texture. Dry skin appears rough, and may even be scratchy to the touch. Dry skin may also lack elasticity and suppleness, and can result in premature wrinkles.
Treating Dry Skin
To treat dry skin, you’ll first need to replace the oils that your skin is failing to produce. Look for lipid-rich products that include plant oils, ceramides, and shea butter in their ingredients lists. Incorporate these face oils into your daily routines. Click here to learn more about the best plant-based moisturizers.
At the same time, take a closer look at the products you’re currently using. Are harsh cleansers stripping your skin of what little natural oil it has? If so, replace them with oil-based options. Regular, gentle exfoliation can work in tandem with topical solutions, preventing dead skin cells from building up and blocking the absorption of vital lipids.
Your diet may also play a part in your natural oil production; consuming foods or supplements rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids can help offset symptoms associated with naturally dry skin.
Definition of Dehydrated Skin
Where dry skin is a genetic skin type, dehydrated skin is a temporary condition that can affect anyone, of any skin type. Dry skin can become dehydrated, compounding existing problems, and even oily and combination skin can experience dehydration. Dehydrated skin lacks water. The good news is that curing dehydrated skin isn’t all that difficult.
Signs of Dehydrated Skin
Dehydrated skin will often lack the natural ‘glow’ associated with healthy skin. Surface cell deflation leaves the skin looking flat and lifeless, and fine lines and wrinkles might stand out much more obviously. At the same time, your skin may take on a sunken appearance, darkening the areas around your eyes and nose. Similar to dry skin, dehydrated skin may cause itchiness and other surface-level irritations.
If you aren’t sure whether your skin is dry or dehydrated, you can perform a simple pinch test on yourself. Just lightly squeeze some of the skin of your cheek between your thumb and index finger. If you see wrinkling occur around the skin, or if the skin fails to immediately resume its former shape once you let go, then there’s a good chance that your skin is dehydrated. Your dermatologist can provide further insight and offer opinions on possible treatments.
Treating Dehydrated Skin
Dehydrated skin is a temporary condition rather than a part of your genetic structure, so treating it is fairly straightforward. Regularly moisturizing your skin, particularly after bathing, showering, or washing your hands or face is an essential first step. At the same time, dehydrated skin can be the result of many external factors, such as sun damage, stress, poor sleep, and temperature and humidity changes.
Dehydration can also be related to lifestyle — making sure you get the recommended daily intake of water can help prevent skin dehydration, as can avoiding skincare products that contain alcohol, retinoids, and alpha hydroxy acid. Wash with lukewarm or cold water, and consider using a humidifier. When going outside in the winter, wear gloves and a face covering, as cold wind and reduced humidity can cause further loss of skin moisture. Finally, avoiding alcohol and caffeine can help improve skin hydration, as can regular exercise.
Dry or Dehydrated, BOTA™ Skincare Is the Answer
Whether you’re suffering from genetic dry skin or temporary dehydration, the right skincare products are your first step towards relief. BOTA provides top-quality, plant-based skincare, free of the harsh chemicals that strip the skin of natural oils and moisture.
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